Troops celebrate R31 million’s successes during border deployment

Soldiers during a parade at KaMaqhekeza Stadium.

NAAS – Troops under the 14 South African Infantry Battalion bade Nkomazi farewell during a parade at KaMaqhekeza Stadium on February 27, and were congratulated for their successes during their six-month deployment on the border.

These members of the South African Defence Force (SANDF) from the Free State and Eastern Cape were deployed along the border from September 5 due to the increase in Mpumalanga’s crime rate over the last financial year. They helped put up more barriers, to make it difficult for criminals to move illegal goods across the border.

READ MORE: Soldiers intercept stolen vehicles near Moz border

Cpt Lwazi Malgas of the Mpumalanga Joint Tactical Headquarters, explained that various support elements provided by the SA Army, SA Air Force and SA Military Health Services were deployed on the borders under operational command, with Lieut Col Ntsunguzi as battalion commander.

The battalion consisted of two companies, one active in the Macadamia area and the other protecting the Swaziland border.

She said the mission was successful, and there were no challenges the SANDF could not handle. Their only negative was that a soldier was killed in a car accident in November.

Before the parade, Col Monwabisi Dyakopu, commanding officer of the Joint Tactical Headquarters in Mpumalanga, addressed the battalion and a few guests.

The military in Mpumalanga was responsible for borders of about 780 kilometres between SA and Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

“Upon their arrival, the deployed troops were challenged to improve the operational successes of their predecessors. They accepted it and even raised the bar. Their operational successes in terms of contraband and illegal goods, including stolen vehicles confiscated are currently standing at R31 859 809. This excludes the achievements with non-monetary value,” Dyakopu said.

READ MORE: Border communities fed-up over smuggling

In conjunction with other role players, such as the SAPS, local communities, businesses and SANParks, the soldiers faced dangers and difficulties in combating cross-border and wildlife criminal activities.

Testimonies to their success include a recent report by environmental affairs minister, Edna Molewa. This stated that there was a 24 per cent reduction in rhino carcasses in Kruger National Park (KNP) and an increase in arrests made.

“On November 30 we received and launched our new mobility package in the KNP, which we were so eagerly waiting for, and it has totally changed the manner which we operate in the park,” Dyakopu added.

READ MORE: Female law enforcers crack down on criminal activities

The soldiers are now looking forward to heading back home.

Maj Carl Fuller, commander of 14 SAI Bravo Company, said that it has been a long, tiring six months. “We put in an extreme effort to combat crime, and the troops need a well-deserved rest. The SANDF from the Eastern Cape have raised the security to another level and criminals are now struggling to survive. They have no chance. Tracker SA helped us to combat vehicle theft by teaching us different aspects to look at and consider. And we have been successful up to date recovering several stolen vehicles,” he stated.

READ MORE: Community and soldiers discuss border challenges with minister

Fuller also advised the youth, especially from Nkomazi, to join the military in order to improve and maintain the safety and security of the border. “Serving your country is an amazing profession, but make sure that you don’t get involved in criminal activities. We cannot afford to have our children turn into street criminals and then be employed by SANDF. People must know that there’s no place for criminals in the military.”

Casper Mhlanga

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